Outstanding Academic Titles 2020: Athletics, Sports & Fitness

Select book reviews taken from Choice's 2020 Outstanding Academic Titles list, highlighting athletics, sports and fitness

Enjoy these five book reviews taken from our 2020 Outstanding Academic Titles list, highlighting Athletics, Sports and Fitness.

1. Social justice in globalized fitness and health: bodies out of sight
Azzarito, Laura. Routledge, 2019

In this important contribution to the discourse on the politics of identity and resistance, Azzarito (Columbia Univ.) problematizes the domain of health and fitness, particularly as experienced by minority and disenfranchised youth. Risk is inherent to deviation from the norm of a thin, toned body—a body that is ultimately a commodity in the marketplace of ideas. Against the totalizing discourse of the “monologue of one” fit body, Azzarito postulates that for young ethnic minorities, the body—and identity—inhabits the intersection of race, class, gender, and lived experience, rather than inhabiting one space. Young ethnic minorities may construct resistance and “re/imaging” in a variety of contexts, including physical education classes, performance in public spaces, and art exhibitions. Critical race theory and feminist theory inform Azzarito’s critique of an otherness made to be consumed and dominated, an identity that is always experienced as lacking and never truly assimilated. This work exposes how physicality can form resistance to a dominant discourse.
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2. Endurance sport and the American philosophical tradition
ed. by Douglas Hochstetler Lexington Books, 2020

Readers may wonder whether this book, as edited by Hochstetler (Pennsylvania State Univ. Lehigh Valley), represents the response of its various authors to the modern growth of endurance sport or to life in a world that rarely allows for time to be with oneself. Perhaps it is both, with contributing authors examining in the process the foundations of the American philosophical tradition. Hochstetler asks “to what extent, and in what ways, does endurance sport play at least a small part in our quest to live a meaningful and gathered life in a world that is so harried?” This question is examined through the lens of American philosophical thinking in the nine essays gathered here. These are densely written pieces, demanding that readers take time to contemplate and reflect. Only athletes thoroughly devoted to their craft would attempt to run a fifty-mile race. So too should the reader of this text be schooled in philosophical reasoning. View on Amazon

3. Sport, physical culture, and the moving body: materialisms, technologies, ecologies
ed. by Joshua I. Newman, Holly Thorpe, and David L. Andrews Rutgers, 2020

This anthology offers readers a dense and intense foray into the theoretical approach of new materialism as applied to sport and sporting practice, technologies, and ecologies. The 15 chapters, most contributed by sport studies scholars, particularly sport sociologists, cover topics as varied as Bondi Beach (Doug Booth), the 2016 Olympics in Brazil (Mary McDonald and Jennifer Sterling), protein shakes (Samantha King), and fitness trackers (Mary Louise Adams). Additionally, the book includes a separately authored foreword, introduction, and afterword orienting the reader to the work of the roughly 26 different scholars involved. The unifying theme of the whole volume is theoretical examination of sporting equipment, events, and related places. Many theorists are cited, but these authors primarily use the works of French scholars such as Bruno Latour, Gilles Deleuze, and Félix Guattari, as well as works of contemporary US scholar Karen Barad. Although sport and its accoutrements are the focus of all the authors, the primary purpose of the anthology is actually engagement with the theories in order to better understand sport. View on Amazon

4. Same players, different game: an examination of the commercial college athletics industry
Barnes, John C. New Mexico, 2020

Barnes (Univ. of New Mexico) examines in detail the controversial issues, standard practices, and future outlook of the multi-million-dollar US collegiate sports industry. In his quest to answer this question: “Who is in power, and how will they benefit from commercial college athletics as they exist today?” Barnes is neither hypercritical nor does he offer partisan suggestions for change. Rather, from the historical perspective to the realities of contemporary collegiate athletic programs, he presents an objective overview of collegiate sports, a useful reference guide and resource. For anyone involved in or contemplating a leadership role in intercollegiate athletic decision-making, the chapters provide essential information about items such as the impact of Title IX (equal opportunity) requirements, television contracts, use of standardized tests as potentially introducing racial bias, and the role of commercial investing, all with potential impact on current and future collegiate athletic programming. Barnes also addresses the relationship between intramural athletics, individual students’ collegiate academic experience, and the economic and social significance of this activity as one of the top big businesses in the US. The extensive bibliography completes the book.
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5Mountain climber: a memoir
Katra, Bill. McFarland, 2020

Katra is a lifelong recreational mountain climber (meaning rope and crampons), a historian, and author of works on Latin American history—most recently José Artigas and the Federal League in Uruguay’s War of Independence (2017); also see The Argentine Generation of 1837 (CH, Jun’96, 33-5900) and Contorno: Literary Engagement in Post-Peronist Argentina (CH, Sep’88, 26-0196). This is Katra’s first book on his avocation, a nostalgic reprise of climbs executed from student days onward, from Cathedral Spires in the Alaska Range to Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Andes. The memoir comprises 16 chapters, beginning with “Climbing Snippets,” from which brief vignettes of climbs undertaken between 1962 and 2014 tumble out. Next are chapter-length descriptions of major expeditions in North and South America. Color and black-and-white photographs from the author’s collection are included. A glossary of climbing terms and chapter notes provides realia and documentation. The writing is remarkably vivid, offering insight into Katra’s state of mind under stressful conditions (e.g., distinguishing between irrational and life-saving fear; recognizing signs of altitude sickness) and seemingly fresh-picked observations of alpine surroundings and climbing conditions.
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